BMW Plant Spartanburg celebrates 25 years.

With vehicles rolling off the assembly line at a rate of about one per minute, most of the 11,000 workers building BMWs at Plant Spartanburg couldn't pause even to celebrate 25 years of production.

But a few of them did stop to mark the occasion Monday morning, including a few of the plant's original employees and its chief, Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing.

Flor and BMW worker Ryan Childers unveiled a specially-marked red, white and blue BMW X7 that displayed 25-year totals for vehicles produced 4.75 million and vehicles exported. In dollar value, the plant now is the nation's number one exporter of vehicles and has shipped most of its 3 million exports though Charleston ports.

Plant Spartanburg's genesis goes back to June 1992 when BMW Chairman Eberhard von Kuenheim announced the company would build its first full production factory outside of Germany. BMW chose South Carolina as the location because of the deep-water port of Charleston, its advanced technical college system and the state's strong work ethic, according to a news release and comments made by several speakers during the brief ceremony. Two years later September 1994 the first BMW built in the United States rolled off the assembly line in Spartanburg County as hundreds of workers cheered.

That car signed by the workers who built it was on display Monday. Longtime employees looked for their signatures, as did one former employee: now S.C. Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt.

"Over the course of history here, very few events will take place that have the power and significance to transform an entire state," said Hitt, who was hired to manage public affairs for the plant when it first opened. "An occurrence of that magnitude is rare but 25...

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